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New York - Dueling Investigations And A War On Words As Skoufis Takes On Cuomo

Published on: January 3, 2019 10:00 PM
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Skoufis setting up his local legislative office in New Windsor. Jan 2, 2019Skoufis setting up his local legislative office in New Windsor. Jan 2, 2019

New York - He may be just 31 years old and still in the process of setting up his legislative offices, but freshman Senator James Skoufis has already come out swinging, announcing his intention to tackle corruption, fraud and abuse statewide, even at the highest levels of government.

A Woodbury Democrat, Skoufis was appointed to chair the state’s Investigations and Government Operations committee last month.

According to The Buffalo News (http://bit.ly/2VpuEVq), Skoufis asked Senate majority leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins to be named to the position.

A statement released by the former Assembly member after his appointment announced his intention to “ensure every official and every agency of the state is doing right by New Yorkers.”  Skoufis also said that his committee would demand full transparency from Cuomo’s office which would include scrutinizing all gubernatorial nominees for state positions and would also create a vehicle for public reporting of fraudulent activity.


Despite sharing the same party affiliation as the governor, Skoufis has made no secret of his frosty relationship with Cuomo. 

As previously reported on VIN News (http://bit.ly/2AHwHL6), Skoufis blasted Cuomo in his victory speech after winning his Senate seat in November, noting that his was the only Democratic campaign in a competitive State Senate race not to receive a financial contribution from the governor. 

After being vilified by the Satmar Rabbi, Rabbi Aron Teitelbaum, as a “wicked and evil man,” Skoufis also issued warnings to officials at the Village of Kiryas Joel, now known as the Town of Palm Tree, telling them to expect no preferential treatment from him and to watch out because there was going to be “a new sheriff in town.”

Cuomo returned fire in an interview on an upstate radio program on Wednesday, as reported by The Daily News (https://nydn.us/2Vtvcti), warning that if Skoufis wanted a war, he was going to get one.

“I have every state contract, every member-item contract,” said Cuomo. “Every grant that the Legislature does goes through my government, so I can investigate every one of those.”

The governor did backpedal, but only slightly, describing an investigations battle as unproductive and wasteful.

Refusing to blink, Skoufis launched another volley at the governor, giving him the green light to investigate to his heart’s content, noting that that decision would have no bearing on his plan to chairing a “very active” investigations committee. 

Taking to social media today, Skoufis noted that while his position with the committee doesn’t start till next week, he has already been subjected to threats from Cuomo.

“Legislative oversight, which is long overdue, will be professional, impartial, and won’t be influenced by comments like the one he made yesterday,” posted Skoufis.

Skoufis’ director of communications Jess Gulotta said that no details about any potential investigations could be released before the senator officially takes his place on the committee on January 9th.

“The main message at this point is that he really wants to use this committee because it hasn’t been utilized in the past, Gulotta told VIN News.

A picture posted to social media showed Skoufis setting up his local legislative office in New Windsor, explaining to his followers that he was temporarily taking over a space that had been used by his predecessor, long time Senator Bill Larkin. 

Two Facebook users who expressed hope that Skoufis would continue working out of Chester were informed that his previous Assembly office was too small to accommodate his larger senatorial staff but that he would not forget his supporters.

“No worries, though,” posted Skoufis. “You will still see me out and about Chester and can be sure it’ll always be top of mind after treating me and our staff so well.”

Skoufis’ followers were vocal as they urged him to go after Cuomo on Facebook.

“I have no doubt that you will do the job that your constituents voted you into office for – to begin cleaning up the stinking fish in Albany that starts at the head!! Ever forward, James!!” wrote Gerry Di Meglio.

“Far too long, this governor has been serving only those who do favors for him,” commented Rob Calone.

And taking a shot at Cuomo’s close ties to Orange County’s Chasidic community, Joelle Congelli-Aguilar posted, “Keep up the pressure on Cuomo! If you can handle the likes of KJ, you can handle Cuomo!!”

Moving swiftly, Skoufis announced several new appointments to his staff including Newburgh lawyer Michael Mazzariello, a former chief prosecutor for the New York City Board of Education who also arbitrated cases on television court shows as “Judge Mazz” and will head Skoufis’s investigations unit.

Also joining Skoufis’ senatorial team are Republican Legislator Michael Anagnostakis, who will be serving part time as Skoufis’ senior advisor, and Sara Dibernardo as chief counsel.

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Read Comments (2)  —  Post Yours »


 Jan 03, 2019 at 11:38 PM triumphinwhitehouse Says:

Wishing him muck to investigate cuomo AND satmar


 Jan 04, 2019 at 09:14 AM Speaksoftly Says:

Storm clouds on the horizon. An agenda has been stated.What is driving it?


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